Sunday 20 October 2019

FF reviews policies on Travellers amid Casey storm fallout

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Stock picture

Philip Ryan and Cormac McQuinn

Fianna Fáil will review the party's policy on the Traveller community after a robust internal debate on the outcome of the presidential election.

During a parliamentary party meeting, TDs and senators agreed to establish a committee which would examine Fianna Fáil's stance on Travellers.

An RTÉ exit poll showed one in three Fianna Fáil supporters voted for Peter Casey, who made inflammatory comments about Travellers' ethnic status during the campaign.

One source said there was an "undercurrent throughout the debate" that Mr Casey struck a cord with the public and Fianna Fáil voters.

At the meeting, one party figure is understood have said the party should reflect the "majority not the minority" when developing policy.

Another source said: "There wasn't anyone bashing Travellers. A lot of people had sympathy for them and thought Casey was wrong for using Travellers [to get votes] whether intentional or not."

Cork East TD Kevin O'Keeffe is understood to have told the meeting he had "no problem" with Travellers as he had danced with them in the dance halls years ago.

Fianna Fáil's equality spokesperson Fiona O'Loughlin was nominated to carry out the review of party policy.

The review will examine what supports Travellers need and how relations can be improved with the settled community. It is hoped the policy will be developed in tandem with Traveller advocacy groups.

The decision followed an hour-long debate on the Traveller community which included a range of views. There was discussion about health, education and life expectancy and the point was made that the vast majority of Travellers are law-abiding.

Irish Independent

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